Technology
3:17 pm
Thu January 2, 2014

New Law Allows Drivers to Show Proof of Insurance Electronically

Drivers never want to see flashing red and blue lights signaling them to pull over, especially if you’ve lost your proof of insurance card.

But Gov. Tom Corbett signed legislation last week that will go into effect Feb. 21 making it easier for drivers to keep track of their information.

“When you need to show proof of insurance if you’re stopped by a police officer and asked for that, you can show your insurance identification information on your smartphone instead of having it on a piece of paper,” said Sen. John Eichelberger (R-Blair).

But it’s not just smartphones — drivers can also use tablets and other electronic devices.

Alex Hageli, of the Property Causality Insurers Association of America, said the law allows insurance companies to decide how they want the electronic insurance cards accessed.

“The most common approach will be to have it as a tab in a carrier’s application,” Hageli said. “I’ve also heard other companies talking about simply emailing an electronic image of their ID card to the policy holder and that way they can just pull it up from their email account.”

Only seven states allowed drivers to use electronic devices for proof of insurance at the beginning of 2013, but that number increased to 30 states by the end of the year.

Eichelberger, the legislation’s primary sponsor, said that he hopes this new law will update the commonwealth. 

“A lot of people now like to have their records provided electronically so this will give the insurers the opportunity to do that if they choose, and then the companies often can save some money by providing it without issuing the paper,” Eichelberger said.

Eichelberger said the new law will is not mandatory for insurance companies or their customers -- but only offered as a convenience.

Hageli cautioned drivers who decide to take the electronic route that they are responsible for what happens to their devices.

“If you hand your phone to an officer, that officer is not liable for any damage that might occur to your phone in his or her possession,” Hageli said. “So you’re basically taking the risk upon yourself when you hand them your phone.”

Policemen are also not responsible for any inadvertent viewing or deletion of material on the device, nor intercepted communication while in possession of the device.

The new law also will allow insurers to offer policies with greater range of deductible amounts including the zero deductible.

Eichelberger said Pennsylvania currently has a $100 minimum deductible.

“With vanishing deductibles that are very popular now with some insurance companies, they could not go below $100 in Pennsylvania unlike many other states,” Eichelberger said. “So we now removed that $100 minimum so people can have a true vanishing deductible down to zero.”